In September, our CEO David Lockie hopped on an airplane to the other side of the ocean to Silicon Valley, USA. He attended the Google CMS Leadership Summit in Sunnyvale, California, home to tech giants like Google, Facebook and Tesla. The summit was a great opportunity to hear Google’s perspective on the biggest challenges in content management and the open web.
The day kicked off with presentations on why site owners need to get online, grow and learn, and troubleshoot when they are on the web. Google demonstrated one of their new products – SiteKit for WordPress. SiteKit enables users to access Search Console, Analytics, AdSense and PageSpeed Insights from one dashboard, making it easier than ever to see how your website is performing.
The focus then shifted to the rise of Generation Z, the generation after the millennials, and the largest generation globally. Particular attention should be paid to this generation as they will be a significant force in the consumer world. Gen Z are tech innate, are more ‘woke’ in terms of social initiatives (think topics like the environment, LGBT, racial justice and gender equality), and have very different working styles.
The day moved on to keynotes on three pillars:
- Performance and tooling
- Visual and engaging
- Privacy and security
Performance and tooling
This pillar focuses on user experience and site performance. Google highlighted the use of Chrome developer tools for plugins and stack packs specific to a CMS, with the ability to add custom audit tests. Portals and signed exchanges (ways to prove the authenticity of a web document) will require changes to the way we create content and are powerful new ways to think about content portability and consumption both on and off your site. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was the main topic, with signed exchanges with AMP now available in mobile Google Search when using Chrome. The signed exchanges with AMP shortens the html script to show the domain name straight away in the Search tab. Prioritising user experience by using AMP will help with load time, layout stability and signed exchanges.
The use of Firebase (Google’s Real User Monitoring tool which is newly available for websites) will help mobile and web app teams succeed by getting actionable insights into app performance and web metrics.
Visual and engaging
This section emphasised the rise of AMP stories. AMP stories are the first mobile-native content format and Google found that users love the story format. Nearly three out of four smartphone users read or view tappable stories on social media at least weekly. 64% of surveyed users preferred the story format and more than 75% are interested in reading tappable stories in their top-read content categories. Tooling and hosting have big opportunities here to provide creation tools for new formats like AMP Stories – we’ll probably see more Gutenberg integration here and a WordPress Plugin that will make it easier to create AMP stories. Breaking news, recipes, pop culture, historical events, explainers and reviews tend to be topics that have higher completion rates in AMP stories, so it’s important to note this when pushing out content on socials.
Privacy and Security
This was the heaviest tech pillar. Cookies will become non-cross-site by default in 2020 and this will have an impact on developers. The launch of Chrome 80 in 2020 will see cookies with no SameSite setting treated as SameSite=Lax by default and only available for same-site access. SameSite=None; Secure cookie setting will be required for cross-site access. Extensions that make use of third-party content and services are most likely to be affected such as: embedded content, widgets, identity providers, multi-site sign-in, analytics, advertising and social sharing. For hosting companies or CMS platforms, notifications should be set up for attacks or hacks on sites.
There seems to be a focus on seamless navigation and catering to changing consumer behaviours. Especially with the rise of Gen Z, it’s important to keep updating and innovating technology and ways we use it. Google put on a great summit with fantastic speakers and informative content that we’re sure we will put to good use in our steps forward toward an already growing digital world.
We’re grateful to have been invited to this summit. The event gave us opportunities to spend time with other folks in the CMS space and to hear Google’s agenda first-hand. We’ll be taking these insights forward to help ensure our clients are well-informed on how best to stay aligned with Google’s priorities on the assumption that for the foreseeable future, Google will remain a strategically critical source of traffic for many.
If you’d like to talk further about any of these insights and how it could support your business, please do get in touch with our friendly team!